THERE'S NO question that Bill Whiting, a Center City resident whose dog was stolen, is the victim of a crime. It's outrageous, and we hope the perpetrators are brought to justice and made to answer for their reprehensible conduct.

Unfortunately, Stu Bykofsky, in his column detailing Mr. Whiting's case, unfairly characterizes and distorts Verizon's role in this case.

Verizon has a strong record of cooperating with law-enforcement authorities. Each year, Verizon receives and responds to tens of thousands of requests from law enforcement. Verizon has received 61,000 requests through September of this year alone.

More than 90 percent of the legal requests are responded to within three business days. When law enforcement advises that a request is time sensitive, it receives a high priority and is addressed as soon as possible. Verizon also staffs a 24/7 center to handle urgent requests from law-enforcement agencies.

Although Mr. Whiting reported this incident to police early on Nov. 11, Verizon was not served with a search warrant for five days, on Nov. 16. Unfortunately, the warrant did not indicate that the information was urgent or time-sensitive, so Verizon handled the request according to its normal procedures.

On Nov. 20, the second business day after receiving the warrant, Verizon contacted police regarding the specifics of its request and the fees for processing the request because it sought information that Verizon does not maintain in the normal course of business.

The police contacted Verizon the next day and indicated that they would review the case with the detective and the victim and get back to us to provide authorization to proceed.

The detective investigating this case finally authorized Verizon to proceed on Nov. 26 after narrowing the scope of his request. Verizon provided the information to him on Nov. 28 in less than 48 hours, consistent with Verizon's typical response time.

That is hardly foot-dragging by Verizon, as Mr. Bykofsky claims.

In a very small percentage of cases, Verizon charges a fee to gather information it does not maintain in the normal course of business. These fees, which only cover a small portion of Verizon's actual costs, are proper, are authorized under federal law, have been approved in court and are consistent with what other phone providers charge for similar requests.

Verizon understands its important role in assisting law-enforcement agencies in their investigations. We will continue to cooperate with these authorities in their investigations and in emergency situations, to the extent permitted by law.

It's disappointing that Mr. Bykofsky lost sight of the big picture here to unfairly criticize Verizon, which had absolutely no involvement in this outrageous crime.

William B. Petersen, President

Verizon Pennsylvania